For years we’ve always worked together to clean house early on Monday morning. Last Monday was no exception—but it seemed there was a host of “other things” to do and we wondered where to start.

Many things begin on Monday. It links the rest, fellowship and vision of Sunday to the everyday work of the weekdays. As always, prioritizing is important, but how to prioritize!? Following is a summary of what happened when we followed a certain verse in Exodus 20, one of the Ten Commandments–repeated by Jesus, and proven true in  many households like ours every week. See if you can guess which one it was by the time you look through all the pictures–from just one day!

"You always have time to do what you do first."  So after Bible reading and breakfast, we started the chores--I mean character-builders. :)  Jonathan and David tackled the maple sap gathering while it was still early.  Dad and Mom were away but we knew what needed done.

My projects included snow removal . . .  . . . preparing the front porch for a special delegation coming . . .  . . . and maintaining temperature and humidity control during the maple syrup operation.

"The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold . . ."  . . . but the diligent shall have plenty of maple syrup!  The first harvest of the year was very good.

That morning the neighbors came to see the syrup operation and pick up their rhubarb and honey from Michael. It was good to see them. First the sap is gathered in buckets. Then strained. Then boiled down to perfection. Each year brings a little more experience and a little more perfection to the process.

Jonathan and David had paid attention to instructions earlier and came up with this great lunch of tomato soup.  Michael had also been planning. Here he prepares to take off for the bank/post office trip of the day.  And music lessons begin!

From morning . . . . . . to afternoon, the sun has been working on the driveway . . . . . . making it more passable for another guest . . . Esther's piano student. (Their family lives where our great grandparents used to live on Big Flint.)

His granddad was also interested in the maple sap harvest. "I'll take a quart!"  Parking the van.  Almost like a strong bear in a warm den.

Other events of the day included Scripture review on MemVerse . . .  . . . one last run for maple sap collection . . .  . . . and prayer for the persecuted church in Brunei. (Many thanks to Voice of the Martyrs for their prayer calendar.)

Michael prepares for another solo trip, this time to the monthly Beekeepers' meeting. The last of the laundry is finally folded. Dad and Mom would have been proud to see the way Esther handled supper. Taco salad!

One of Dad's rules clearly states: "Have fun!" So after a day like today we decided to finish off with this game of Character Clues. The object of the game is to match 49 character qualities and their definitions. Esther records the scores in her Faith Journal. We appreciate Dad and Mom stressing the importance of character. This game however was not to be finished . . . . . . because before we knew it, a noise from upstairs surprised us all. We ran up the stairs as fast as we could to find that . . . James was home !!!

Dad and Mom picked him up from the airport in Pittsburg. Now after three years in Chicago he has returned to bless our family (as well as many of his clients) with his graphic arts abilities and his can-do spirit. Valentine's day cookies, a climax to the occaision.

But there was one more surprise in the corner!  Esther's friends from Oklahoma City had not forgotten her on her birthday. They sent a priceless treasure: memories recorded by her teammates in an album.  Under authority, we have been abundantly blessed--with skills, opportunities and relationships. To God all praise and glory! His ways are best--all the time.

“Honour thy father and thy mother:
that thy days may be long
upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee”

(Exodus 20:12).